The HKDSE Chinese Paper 1 and 2 may have seemed different to past years’ papers, but they were not exactly difficult, according to Beacon College Chinese tutor Lam Yat-yan.
A total of 50,565 candidates sat the exam today.
“Since some of the question types appeared for the first time this year, students might have been surprised by how the format has changed,” he said.
One example was in Paper 1 (Reading), where students needed to use the concepts they learned from the 12 prescribed texts to answer the questions in Part B regarding the classical Chinese passage.
“This has never happened before, because those concepts were usually only tested in Part A, which was specifically about the prescribed texts,” said Lam.
“In the past, the genres of the first two passages were mainly narration, description, and lyrical or sentimental writing. But this year, they were argumentative essays. Students might have [been a little taken aback],” said Lam.
“However,” he continued, “neither passage was lengthy. Also, both authors were classic Chinese writers. If students had read enough classical literature, they wouldn’t have found the passages too difficult.”
Students agreed that the questions this year were different to what had been seen previously.
“I feel like the questions in Part B were more indirect this year, as we had to guess the hidden messages behind each one instead of just writing the summary or some simpler questions,” said Pauline Wong Tsz-wing, 17, from Maryknoll Convent School.
But Terence Mak, 17, from True Light Middle School of Hong Kong, didn’t feel anyone who had prepared would have had any trouble. “I think Paper 1 Part A is rather straightforward. If you’ve familiarised yourself with all the prescribed texts, I feel like there shouldn’t be any problems.”
There were also some new elements in Paper 2 (Writing), especially in the second question where students were asked to base their composition on a poem, which has not been seen before on the exam.
“The key to scoring higher in this question was to always make your points clearly relevant to the poem,” said Lam. “Instead of only talking about your ideas regarding the issue.”
Incidentally, Lam said that the same poem had previously appeared in China’s senior high school entrance exam, also known as the zhongkao, in Nanjing in 2015.
Question 1 asked students to start their composition with the sentence: I will always remember these words for the rest of my life.
Lam said, “The difficulty of the question lies in explaining why you would remember those words for a lifetime. And of course, those words do not have to be positive, they could also be some hurtful words that you’ve heard before and will never forget.”
For Question 3, students were asked to write about their thoughts on the notion, “Reading is not important”. Lam said the question was not about learning or studying. Rather, it required students to focus on reading only. Students may not have scored well if they didn’t grasp the key word.